As markets continue their roller coaster ride while the candidates sling invective at one another’s financial bailout plans, I hear daily from people reacting to the financial situation as it relates to colleges. On the college side, college administrators are concerned many of you will stay home, or at least closer to home than you might otherwise have gone. For students, or more specifically, parents, there is a growing trend to rule out some colleges now on the basis of finances.
A study out today from the National Association of Independent Colleges, however, offers a more realistic picture. That association is made up of the high cost private institutions. A Dean of Admissions for a major public institution, such as myself, who was feeling less than charitable might mention that these are the schools most likely to have graduates with HUGE DEBT LOADS, but I wouldn’t stoop to that level (cue campaign music). The study found that, while many schools had lost some of their student loan lenders, only 8.5% had trouble replacing those lenders. They also reported a handful of students at most institutions facing financial difficulty, but reported that most found alternative payment plans or other funding sources to continue meeting their (incredibly inflated) tuition costs.
So how does all this impact YOU? There are two big aspects to how the “crisis” can impact your ability to pay. First, most of us with savings have seen those funds take a huge loss, so have less cash on hand to pay college bills. Second, loans to make up that gap might be harder to get, and/or more expensive to pay off.
While I appreciate that families need to assess their financial situations in making their college choices, it seems a bit bizarre to me for students to be making up their minds already that some schools are out of reach. We really don’t know what will be going on by the time those of you applying for college this year get your financial aid packages (for most of you that won’t be until March or April 2009), let alone when you need to make your commitment to colleges (May 1, 2009) or when you bills will start to come to (for most in early September 2009). It’s entirely possible that the financial situation, particularly the availability of loans and their rates, will be very different by those dates.
So my advice: don’t rule out any schools at this point based on their cost (even if those costs are ridiculously high from some of those other schools), especially before you see what kind of aid they might supply. At the same time, it’s certainly worth making sure your mix of schools has some reasonably priced alternatives that you can be excited about. Did I mention that, even for out of state students, Mason’s tuition is about HALF of the other D.C. institutions? I did? Oh good. Be seeing you.
Filed under: Admissions, College Search Process, Deadlines, Education, Family, Financial Aid, George Mason University, Life, Parents, Scholarships, University | Tagged: economy, Education, Family, Financial Aid, Life, money | 11 Comments »